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TOM NAPPER & TOM BLISS 'The Silverlode' Slipjig Music Slip 006

The title comes from the Bliss-penned tale of a Cornish miner who finds love and death in the Channel Isles while searching for "The Silverlode Of Sark". Another of his songs here tells the spooky story of a World War II pilot that "Someone Upstairs" looks after, then there's one for a Chinese baby and another for his violin (played for the record by Tom McConville). Hardly the usual singer-songwriter fare, but this is a refreshingly unusual CD, mixing instrumentals and songs from traditional and contemporary sources, played and sung with much skill and vigour.

Tom Napper's musical promiscuity is legendary, but this new partnership provides a great vehicle for his song-accompanying and tune-leading talents to shine. While his instrumental virtuosity is long-proven, his lead vocals on "Poor Labourers" and "The Salt", and his backing vocals throughout make this a partnership of equals, as do Bliss's guitar and mandocello work.

To a certain extent this could be seen as a formulaic partnership - singer-songwriter recently escaped from rock circuit would like to meet time-served multi-instrumental folkie with a view to a huge mailing list and a gig at the Albert Hall. And hey, why not? And if they don't make as big a splash as Show Of Hands, it won't be the fault of their music. Unless it's too good, of course.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 52 of The Living Tradition magazine.